Thandai is a delicious cooling drink made with milk, flavored with nuts, seeds, and spices, and adorned with saffron strands and rose petals. Thandai is enjoyed in the northern parts of India during the warm summer months and especially on the occasion of Holi.

Best thandai served on 3 cups on a pretty tray for holi
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March is the season of Holi, the festival of color, similar to the beautiful colors of spring. This is the Indian festival welcoming spring. 

In different regions of India, people perform different rituals. In North India, the day before Holi, people burn a holy fire called Holika Dahan.

As a child, I prepared for Holi, which started early in the morning. Filling balloons with water, getting the variety of colors ready. Then, as the day started, all friends and family would get together to play Holi. Put lots of colors on each other, throw the balloons, and get everyone wet.

Here is a Bollywood video that might give you an idea of what Holi is like. Okay, to be fair, we don’t sing and dance as much 🙂

YouTube video

But guess what, I don’t miss Holi much anymore. Here in the Bay Area, we have many Holi celebrations. One of the popular ones, which has been going on for more than 10 years, is the Asha Holi at Stanford.

I enjoyed this while I studied and lived there. Now, many more Holi celebrations happen almost every weekend in March.

Now, let’s discuss the food for Holi. My favorite drink is Thandai. Traditionally, people served Thandai with a dose of bhaang (a preparation of cannabis) to adults.

Watch How to Make Thandai

What is Thandai?

Thandai is also called Sardai in some parts of India. Thand means cold, so Thandai is a cool and refreshing drink. Thandai is made with a special spice mix, which is mixed in milk. We will make the Thandai paste/syrup and then the Thandai Milk in this recipe.

If you want to store the thandai mixture, make the Thandai Masala powder, which has a longer shelf life.

You can also buy Thandai mix at the Indian grocery stores and mix that in milk. However, it is so easy to make at home, and you don’t have to use the store-bought ones that have preservatives.

As you can see, they are all nutritious ingredients, just like my badam milk recipe. You can mix it with a glass of milk anytime and have tasty Thandai ready quickly.

Thandai Recipe, Thandai Vitamix, How to make Thandai, Thandai

Thandai Ingredients

Thandai is filled with the goodness of natural ingredients such as nuts, seeds, and spices, along with milk. One of the most important steps in making Thandai is collecting all the ingredients.

  • Almonds – Loaded with healthy fats and antioxidant properties, they are a rich source of vitamin E.
  • Cashews – Cashews are rich in fiber, heart-healthy fats, and protein.
  • Pistachios – Pistachios are an excellent source of protein, antioxidants, and fiber.
  • Fennel seeds – They keep the body cool during summers, aid the digestive system, and cure flatulence.
  • Poppy seeds – Rich in protein, fiber, calcium, fat, and minerals, they help relieve gastrointestinal irritation and boost the immune system.
  • Melon seeds – They are a natural energizer.
  • Dried Rose Petals – Rose petals contain phytochemicals and antioxidants
  • Spices such as cardamom and peppercorn are known to boost immunity
  • Milk – I use whole milk to get a thick creamy thandai
  • Sugar – I used regular white granulated sugar as a sweetener.
  • Rose Water – This adds a wonderful, fresh flavor to the drink.
Ingredients to make thandai

How to make Thandai at home?

You will easily find most of the ingredients. The only ingredients I thought were a bit tricky were melon seeds (or charmagaz) and dried rose petals. I found these at the Indian grocery store.

First, you want to blanch the almonds. Soak them overnight or soak them in hot water for 15-30 minutes. Then, peel the skin.

How to blanch almonds

While the almonds are soaking, you can also soak the other nuts and seeds if you like. This will help to soften them and make it easier to grind.

Now, add all the ingredients to a blender or spice grinder. I used Vitamix to grind the ingredients, as it can grind to a fine powder or paste.

You can add milk while grinding to make a paste or thandai syrup (more liquid).

Thandai Masala paste in a blender

The ingredients to make Thandai now are – milk, thandai paste, sugar, saffron, rose water, and optionally dried rose petals (or rose water). Add 1-2 tablespoons of thandai paste per glass of milk (about 8oz) and one tablespoon of sugar (adjust to taste).

Add milk to a heavy bottom pan on medium-high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Add saffron strands to the milk while it is heating.

Reduce the heat to low, then mix in the thandai paste and sugar. Then add in the rose water. Use a whisk to mix the thandai with the milk. Take off the heat.

Let this rest for at least 30 minutes, or you can let it cool and refrigerate it overnight. This helps the milk to soak in all wonderful flavors. Then, strain the thandai. Make sure to take out all the milk from the sieve by pressing the remains.

How to make thandai milk for holi steps

However, if you are not particular about a smooth drink, I would say don’t strain it. Why lose the awesome nutrients in the strainer? 😊

Serve chilled thandai in glasses. Garnish with saffron strands, dried rose petals, or sliced pistachios.

Thandai served in 3 cups, garnished with saffron and rose petals

If you prefer a stronger yellow color for the Thandai. You can add natural yellow food color, turmeric, or much more saffron.

Make sure to serve thandai chilled. You can also make thandai 1-2 days in advance and refrigerate it.

Common Questions

Can I drink thandai during pregnancy?

With all the wonderful nutrients, thandai is a healthy drink to enjoy during pregnancy. It can help with heartburn with its cooling effects. It is best to have it in moderation.

Is thandai good for health?

Thandai is made with nuts, seeds, and whole spices, along with milk. These are all healthy natural ingredients that boost energy and immunity and improve digestion. This makes thandai a healthy cooling drink to enjoy, especially during the summer months.

How to make thandai vegan?

Although thandai made with whole dairy milk is not vegan, you can make it vegan by using almond milk or another vegan milk of choice.

Enjoy Thandai during this Holi! It would be a great addition to a Holi together 🙂

You might also enjoy other favorite recipes:

4.86 from 7 votes

Thandai Recipe (Flavored Drink for Holi)

Thandai is a delicious drink made with milk, flavored with nuts, seeds and spices, and adorned with saffron strands and rose petals. Thandai is enjoyed in the Northern parts of India during the warm summer months and especially on the occasion of Holi.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

Ingredients 

For Thandai paste

For Thandai

  • 1 litre Milk, preferably pasteurized whole milk, divided
  • 6 tablespoon Sugar, adjust to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Rose Water, (optional) or dried rose petals
  • 8-10 strands Saffron (Kesar), to garnish
  • Dried Rose Petals, to garnish

Instructions 

Make Thandai Paste

  • First blanch the almonds. Soak them overnight or soak in hot water for 15-30 minutes. Then peel the skin.
  • While the almonds are soaking, you can also soak the other nuts and seeds if you like. This will help to soften them, and make it easier to grind.
  • Transfer the almonds to a blender along with all ingredients for Thandai paste and make a fine paste. Add milk as needed to make a smooth paste or syrup.

Make Thandai

  • Add milk to a heavy bottom pan on medium-high heat, and bring to a gentle boil. Add saffron strands to the milk, while it is heating.
  • Reduce the heat to low, then mix in the thandai paste and sugar. Then add in the rose water. Use a whisk to mix the thandai with the milk. Take off heat.
  • Let this rest for at least 30 minutes or you can let it cool, and refrigerate it overnight. This helps for the milk to soak in all wonderful flavors.
  • Strain the thandai. Make sure to take out all the milk from the sieve by pressing the remains.
  • Serve thandai in glasses. Garnish with saffron strands, dried rose petals, and optimally sliced pistachios. Serve chilled. 

Video

Notes

 Color: If you want a stronger yellow color for the Thandai, you can add natural yellow food color or turmeric powder or much more saffron.

Nutrition

Calories: 177kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 4gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 6mgPotassium: 205mgFiber: 3gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 39IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 61mgIron: 2mg

Additional Info

Course: Beverage
Cuisine: Indian, North Indian
Diet: Gluten-free, Vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

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4.86 from 7 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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